Is it the destination, or the journey? Journey mapping to better speak to your donors

You are more than likely speaking regularly to your supporters, thanking them, stewarding them, letting them know about the important services your charity is performing.  You may have also asked yourself, is this communication working?  Is there a way to build process around communications to allow for measuring, segmentation and testing?  Is there a better way?

The answer is a resounding yes!  By mapping out your communication touch points through journey mapping, you can start to structure your communication to welcome, thank and steward your supporters – as well as discover the gaps. There is no way you can have (tens of) thousands of individual conversations with your donors each month to maintain loyalty to your cause. Mapping the organization’s donor journey helps structure communication with a large pool of donors and prospective donors using as close to an individual approach as resources allow.

The first important step is understanding who your donors are.  Often, critical information can be unearthed through data mining, market research and supporter feedback.  By analyzing this data, you can begin to create segments, or groups of supporters who share similar traits and relationships to your charity who are structured into personas.  From here you can begin to understand how these groups like to interact with you, what sort of information they want and how they want to receive it.

Critically, journey mapping also focuses on automation of the process as far as possible, allowing charities to deliver the improved and personalized supporter experiences that today’s donor demands but within the smaller budgets non-profits are faced with. Fortunately, new methods and technologies are helping marketers and fundraisers deliver messages and paths that focus on the needs and interests of each potential donor to present a clear and consistent message on the impact of giving to the mission; then moves to convert, retain and upgrade donors through lifecycle marketing.

It’s important to refine, personalize and manage each donor’s entire journey with your cause from information gathering, evaluation, and donation decision experience.  By formalizing your communications your can continually test and optimize your journey map.  For instance, does calling each new mid-level donor over the age of 50 to personally thank them in the first month lead to a better chance of a higher second gift?  For 2-plus years lapsed, test an email with a survey asking why they stopped giving and to reiterate how their donation makes a difference.

From awareness, to acquisition, to cultivation, to stewardship and then reactivation, each group will have different needs and communication preferences.

Journey mapping is ideally undertaken by cross-functional teams who come together to capture a full 360-degree view of your organization:

  • Team members determine the starting and ending point of each journey
  • Post-it notes are used to identify touch points and channels, with different colours representing different channels
  • Most importantly, the groups are asked to identify the moments that matter — the peaks and valleys
  • The next step is to determine the defining moments that would hinder or help the persona to get to the end of their journey

Each group is then instructed to complete their business case and present it to the rest of the room. This involves presenting their persona, reviewing their donor journey from start to finish, and pitching their business case for a potential solution to improve the donor experience. Lastly, each group is asked to build their ideal journey.

Coming out of the journey mapping process you are left with a clear picture of what the plan should look like, focused on understanding how an individual or company comes into your organization and what steps need to be in place to welcome, steward and retain them.

Through documentation, benchmark setting, testing and refinement, you can build your optimal donor journey to ensure that your valued supporters are given the attention they deserve with transparent, relevant and timely communications.

Best wishes for a wonderful journey!